, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14- So vicious is the war on contraband goods in the country that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi is now willing to pay the ultimate price.
At a news conference outside the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Wednesday, the tough talking security minister revered for implementing government policies with zeal in ministries he has headed previously said he is not afraid to die if that is what it will take to end importation of poisonous sugar and other contraband goods after recent recoveries that have shocked Kenyans.
“I am not under any illusion that we engaged in a very serious war. A war that could be means anything; it could mean even the lives of these officers and some of us,” Matiangi told reporters, when Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti displayed tones of the sugar imported illegally from Brazil.
“It is a complex war”, the CS said “that may not spare the detectives involved in the ongoing crackdown.”He revealed how detectives investigating the matter have been receiving telephone calls from unnamed individuals, with unspecified warnings if they do not stop or release the impounded sugar.
“The people who gave up their lives for this country to be independent did not lose their blood in vein so that we get ourselves where we are today, where we have people in our midst who are selling poison and sabotaging our economy,” Matiangi said, and assured security agents of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s support in their work.
“You now know who to call, (President) Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
The first consignment nabbed in Eastleigh was found with mercury and copper traces, according to findings from the Government Chemist.
The consignment had 1,474 bags (50Kg’s) of sugar, clearly indicated not suitable for direct human consumption.
“Some of these impurities found in the sugar can be cancerous,” Matiangi said, and vowed not to be shaken.
“I want to be frank with the people of Kenya that we have to change the way we live. We are not going to be polite about this,” he said of what he termed as “a white-collar job.”
On Tuesday detectives seized more than 1000 bags of sugar and a mass scale packaging machine worth Sh25 million in a warehouse in Ruiru, Kiambu County.
But the Government has vowed to crack down on the cross-border syndicate of contraband and counterfeit goods.
Matiangi said the Government will ensure all the contraband goods ranging from adulterated fuel, sugar, electronics and so on are not flooded in the economy, hampering genuine businesses and local farmers.
“It is shocking when you look at some of the things we have discovered. It is shocking what we are doing to ourselves and to the country,” the CS said when the goods offloaded from trucks were displayed to journalists.
“The level of criminality involved is mind-boggling, that there are people in our country who make money by selling goods they know for sure are poisonous,” he said.
He said the economy was already hurt, a trend that if it continues will only worsen the situation.
Already, 3 retailers have been arrested in Eastleigh and arraigned in court.
But according to a senior detective involved in the ongoing crackdown, the real sugar barons are people highly networked, some within the agencies supposed to stop the menace like the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Kenya Revenue Authority and police at the country entry points and so on.
The detective revealed that one is an elected influential politician in the country while another is a relative of a Central Kenya legislator.
“They will be arrested. We are narrowing down on them…” the officer assured.
Those behind the illicit trade are said to be muzzling local manufacturers and are involved in tax evasion besides exposing citizens to health risks and national security threats attributed to the black market.